“Sen. Sweeney decides what legislation can be moved,” [NJEA President Marie Blistan] said. “As you can see right now, we are standing side by side, and we are smiling.”
Hard to believe, this new-found camaraderie born after NJEA leaders spent $5 million of teachers’ dues to utterly fail at ousting Senate President Steve Sweeney. Yet here they stand, arm in arm, jointly announcing a deal that, if it works as promised, will save school districts $670 million a year on health insurance for public school employees and save NJEA members $403 million a year. That’s a billion dollars, folks.
You know who’s not part of this lovefest?
Governor Phil Murphy, who wasn’t even invited to the press conference. Sure, he’s recovering from surgery to remove a tumor on his kidney but they couldn’t have waited a few days? If you’re unclear about the animosity between Sweeney (who dreamt of sitting in the Governor’s seat until Murphy paid off all the County bosses in 2017) and Murphy, InsiderNJ has this priceless image of the Governor as an “NJEA-enabler and toothless toady of northern interests antithetical to South Jersey.”
Yet NJEA abandoned its most loyal of sycophants like a faithless lover. Ouch.
First, congratulations to, well, all of us taxpayers. While this doesn’t quite mitigate the problems inherent in health care plans that fully cover $700/hour acupuncture sessions, it’s a step in the right direction, if not quite as far down the lane as Sweeney’s “Path to Progress” fiscal reforms. First, the plan (details fuzzy as there’s no actual bill proposal yet) would tie teacher contributions to percentages of salaries instead of tying contributions, as Chapter 78 does, to incessantly increasing health care premiums. This means more money in teachers’ pockets. Second, the plan would move new employees to lower-cost plans (New Jersey Educators Health Plan and Garden State Health Plan) although current employees get to keep their platinum-plus plans (with less incentive to move to gold ones).
I guess we’re still stuck with those $700/hour acupuncure sessions.
For full coverage of the NJEA health plan crisis pre-Sweeney/Blistan detente, see Mike Lilley’s analysis here.